Bridgewater suffered a severe knee injury during a non-contact portion of an Aug. 30 practice when he was rolling out of the pocket and his leg buckled, dislocating his knee and tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and other ligaments. Bridgewater had surgery to repair the knee, but he was quickly placed on season-ending injured reserve and his ability to ever play again quickly came into question.
It’s still not known if Bridgewater will be able to play in 2017, or ever again, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer offered an encouraging evaluation on Friday, the first day of rookie minicamp, when asked if Bridgewater might be able to play at some point this season.
“Yeah, I love Teddy Bridgewater. The guy is working his rear end off, continues to fight every single day. Everything about him, when he’s rehabbing and doing the work that he has to do, is the exact same way that he approaches life,” Zimmer said.
“I’m probably more optimistic now about him eventually playing than I have been at any point in time. But he’s still got a long way to go.”
The Vikings certainly won’t rush Bridgewater back into action. They traded for veteran Sam Bradford last year after Bridgewater’s injury and he had a solid season. Bradford is under contract through the 2017 season and the Vikings declined to pick up Bridgewater’s fifth-year option for 2018.
But if Bridgewater is placed on the physically unable to perform list this year and doesn’t play, his contract would toll, meaning the Vikings would still have him for 2018.
None of the Vikings’ 2017 draft picks were under contract before the start of rookie minicamp Friday, but Zimmer didn’t seem concerned about it. “That’ not in my job description. Everything gets slotted now,” Zimmer said, referring to the rookie wage scale based on draft position.
Zimmer said the he had two eye surgeries in the course of eight days toward the end of April. That puts the tally at eight surgeries since Week 5 of the 2017 season, according to what General Manager Rick Spielman told PFT Live on Friday morning.
With 11 draft picks and 13 undrafted rookie taking in part in camp this weekend, the Vikings also had nine other first-year players participating in camp, along with a host of rookies trying out.
Zimmer said he showed the players film of some of the other rookies that have made the team on a tryout basis and it included plenty of footage of Marcus Sherels and Adam Thielen. “Both of those guys were on it quite a bit. When you go back and start looking at success stories in the NFL, a lot of it is getting the right chance,” Zimmer said. “A lot of it is getting the right fit.”
Zimmer said with all the additions the Vikings have made to the offensive line – signing tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in free agency and drafting center Pat Elflein and guard Danny Isidora – that he believes the offensive line will be better, but admitted “the proof is in the pudding.”